Hunter’s Ridge in Bonita Springs, Florida opened in 1987 and is a Gordon Lewis designed, 18-hole championship golf course that plays 6167 yards from the back tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 69.7 with a slope of 127. Wispy, Spanish moss hangs from cypress and oak trees that line the fairways. Water comes into play on 16 holes and the fairway traps come into play no matter which tees you are playing from.
Number 1: Par 5, 480 yards. As you stand on the tee box of this slight dogleg left you will see a hazard that looms straight ahead. The hazard is actually 280 yards out; it looks closer than it is. So, if you keep it just short of the hazard and you can have a go at the green from there. Be careful with your approach shot as water looms to the right and woods and I-75 to the left.
Number 2: Par 4, 294 yards. This short par 4 is a dogleg left; you’ll only need to hit it about 175 off the tee which will leave about 120 yards to an elevated green guarded on the right by water.
Number 3: Par 3, 146 yards. A par 3 with water down the right side that claims all slices; out of bounds makes up the left side of the hole. A large bunker guards the front left of the green. The left side of the green has a crown which could be difficult depending on the mood of the greens keeper. A pin in the front right would be the easiest placement.
Number 4: Par 5, 630 yards. No short hole here; this par 5 will take every bit of three shots to reach the green. To compound matters, you probably don’t want to hit driver off the tee and, if you can hit a draw, now would be the time to do it. Water comes into play on the right side off the tee and again on your layup shot. A stream crosses the fairway about 140 yards out; a good drive and a decent second shot will get you over the stream in two and leave about 120 yards to the green.
Number 9: Par 4 383 yards. The water that crosses the fairway can easily be carried from the back tees however there is more water on the right which really makes things interesting off the tee.
Number 11: Par 4, 416 yards. This is a very narrow hole with a landing area off the tee that opens up to the right. If you can hit it straight off the tee, there is not a whole lot of trouble on number 11.
Number 12: Par 4, 385 yards. Feel free to cut off as much off the dogleg as you like but don’t get too greedy; out of bounds is a little farther left. There is water about 100 yards short of the green that needs to be navigated on your approach shot.
Number 14: Par 5, 505 yards. A nice par 5, dogleg left that requires accuracy off the tee in order to have a chance of getting on in two and scoring well. The large, long green is fronted by two bunkers and has water on the right.
Number 18 Par 4, 318 yards. Although short, this is indeed a nice finishing hole. The landing area off the tee is somewhat narrow, but at 318 yards, you’ll probably be hitting an iron anyway. Your approach shot is to an island green, so leave a manageable distance for your second shot.
Last Word: Don’t let the scorecard fool you. You may get the idea that you can easily tame this 6300 yard course, but it will test your shot making ability and accuracy right off the first tee. For the most part, you would be better off leaving the driver at home – there are only a handful of holes to hit driver on. This course has the makings of a long ball hitter’s nightmare – you will need to be able to put the ball where you want if you are going to score well.
If you have not played the course before, it would be a good idea to play it with a member or at least someone who knows the course. There are a few holes where you need to know where the hole goes; a GPS or laser rangefinder is a worthwhile investment if you are a member at Hunter’s Ridge.
Three of the par five holes are reachable in two provided you hit a good tee shot. The other one plays a whopping 630 yards from the back tees. There are a couple of short par fours, one of which may be reachable off the tee if you know where you’re going.
The par threes are negotiable and offer a good chance at birdie provided you can find the green off the tee. The course is well bunkered and water comes into play more often than you would like. Practice facilities include a grass driving range, short game area and practice putting green. Beverage cart service is not available in the off season, but drinks and snacks can be picked up at the pro shop.
For membership information on Hunters Ridge, you can visit them online at www.huntersridge.net or give them a call Hunters Ridge at (239) 992-4242 or the golf pro shop for tee times at (239) 947-6467.